The Gulistan of Sa'di
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The Gulistan of Sa'di.
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The Gulistan of Sa'di
Written 1258 A.C.E.
On the Advantages of Silence
I said to a friend that I have chosen rather to be silent than
to speak because on most occasions good and bad words are scattered concurrently
but enemies perceive only the latter. He replied: 'That enemy is the greatest
who does not see any good.'
The brother of enmity passes not near a good
Except to consider him as a most wicked liar.
Virtue is to the eyes of enmity the greatest
Sa'di is a rose but to the eye of enemies a thorn.
The world illumining sun and fountain of light
Look ugly to the eye of the mole.
A merchant, having suffered loss of a thousand dinars, enjoined
his son not to reveal it to anyone. The boy said: 'It is thy order and
I shall not tell it but thou must inform me of the utility of this proceeding
and of the propriety of concealment.' He replied: 'For fear the misfortune
would be double; namely, the loss of the money and, secondly, the joy of
neighbours at our loss.'
Reveal not thy grief to enemies
Because they will say 'La haul' but rejoice.
An intelligent youth possessed an abundant share of accomplishments
and discreet behaviour so that he was allowed to sit in assemblies of learned
men but he refrained from conversing with them. His father once asked him
why he did not likewise speak on subjects he was acquainted with. He replied:
'I fear I may be asked what I do not know and be put to
Hast thou heard how a Sufi drove
A few nails under his sandals
And an officer taking him by the sleeve
Said to him: 'Come and shoe my horse.'
For what thou hast not said no one will trouble
But when thou hast spoken bring the proof.
A scholar of note had a controversy with an unbeliever but, being
unable to cope with him in argument, shook his head and retired. Someone
asked him how it came to pass that, with all his eloquence and learning,
he had been unable vanquish an irreligious man. He replied: 'My learning
is in the Quran, in tradition and in the sayings of sheikhs, which he neither
believes in nor listens to. Then of what use is it to me to hear him
To him of whom thou canst not rid thyself by the Quran and
The best reply is if thou dost not reply anything.
Galenus saw a fool hanging on with his hands to the collar of a
learned man and insulting him, whereon he said: 'If he were learned he
would not have come to this pass with an ignorant man.'
Two wise men do not contend and quarrel
Nor does a scholar fight with a contemptible fellow.
If an ignorant man in his rudeness speaks harshly
An intelligent man tenderly reconciles his heart.
Two pious men keep a hair between them untorn
And so does a mild with a headstrong man.
If however both sides are fools
If there be a chain they will snap it.
An ill-humoured man insulted someone.
He bore it and replied: 'O man of happy issue,
I am worse than thou canst say that I am
Because I know thou art not aware of my faults as I
Subhan Vail is considered to have had no equal in rhetorics because
he had addressed an assembly during a year and had not repeated the same
word but, when the same meaning happened to occur, he expressed it in another
manner and this is one of the accomplishments of courtiers and
A word if heart-binding and sweet
Is worthy of belief and of approbation.
When thou hast once said it do not utter it again
Because sweets, once partaken of, suffice.
I heard a philosopher say that no one has ever made a confession
of his own folly except he who begins speaking, whilst another has not
yet finished his talk.
Words have a head, O shrewd man, and a tail.
Do not insert thy words between words of others.
The possessor of deliberation, intelligence and
Does not say a word till he sees silence.
Several officials of Sultan Mahmud asked Hasan Muimandi one day
what the sultan had told him about a certain affair. He replied: 'You must
yourselves have heard it.' They rejoined: 'What he says to thee he does
not think proper to communicate to the like of us.' He answered: 'Because
he trusts that I shall not reveal it. Then why do you ask me to do
A knowing man will not utter every word which occurs to
It is not proper to endanger one's head for the king's
I was hesitating in the conclusion of a bargain for the purchase
of a house when a Jew said: 'Buy it for I am one of the landholders of
this ward. Ask me for a description of the house as it is and it has no
defect.' I replied: 'Except that thou art the neighbour of
A house which has a neighbour like thee
Is worth ten dirhems of a deficient standard
But the hope must be entertained
That after thy death it will be worth a thousand.
A poet went to an amir of robbers and recited a panegyric but he
ordered him to be divested of his robe. As the poor man was departing naked
in the world, he was attacked from behind by dogs, whereon he intended
to snatch up a stone but it was frozen to the ground and, being unable
to do so, he exclaimed: 'What whore-sons of men are these? They have let
loose the dogs and have tied down the stones.' The amir of the robbers
who heard these words from his room laughed and said: 'O philosopher, ask
something from me.' He replied: 'I ask for my robe if thou wilt make me
a present of it.'
We are satisfied of thy gift by departure.
A man was hoping for the gifts of people.
I hope no gift from thee. Do me no evil.
The robber chief took pity upon him, ordered his robe to be restored
to him and added to it a sheepskin jacket with some
An astrologer, having entered his own house, saw a stranger and,
getting angry, began to insult him, whereon both fell upon each other and
fought so that turmoil and confusion ensued. A pious man who had the scene
'How knowest thou what is in the zenith of the
If thou art not aware who is in thy house?'
A preacher imagined his miserable voice to be pleasing and raised
useless shouts, thou wouldst have said that the crow of separation had
become the tune of his song; and the verse- for the most detestable of
voices is surely the voice of asses- appears to have been applicable to
him. This distich also concerns him:
When the preacher Abu-l-Fares brays
At his voice Istakhar-Fares quakes.
On account of the position he occupied the inhabitants of the locality
submitted to the hardship and did not think proper to molest him. In course
of time, however, another preacher of that region, who bore secret enmity
towards him, arrived on a visit and said to him: 'I have dreamt about thee,
may it end well!' 'What hast thou dreamt?' 'I dreamt that thy voice had
become pleasant and that the people were comfortable during thy sermons.'
The preacher meditated a while on these words and then said: 'Thou hast
dreamt a blessed dream because thou hast made me aware of my defect. It
has become known to me that I have a disagreeable voice and that the people
are displeased with my loud reading. Accordingly I have determined henceforth
not to address them except in a subdued voice':
I am displeased with the company of friends
To whom my bad qualities appear to be good.
They fancy my faults are virtues and perfection.
My thorns they believe to be rose and jessamine.
Say. Where is the bold and quick enemy
To make me aware of my defects?
He whose faults are not told him
Ignorantly thinks his defects are virtues.
A man used to shout superfluous calls to prayers in the mosque
of Sinjar and in a voice which displeased all who heard it. The owner of
the mosque, who was a just and virtuous amir, not desirous to give him
pain, said: 'My good fellow, in this mosque there are old muezzins' to
each of whom I pay five dinars monthly but to thee I shall give ten, if
thou wilt go to another place.' The man agreed and went away. Some time
afterwards however, he returned to the amir and said: 'My lord, thou hast
injured me by turning me away for ten dinars from this place because where
I next went they offered me twenty dinars to go to another locality but
I refused.' The amir smiled and said: 'By no means accept them because
will give thee even fifty dinars.'
No one can scrape the mud from gravel with an
As thy discordant shouting scrapes the heart.
A fellow with a disagreeable voice happened to be reading the Quran,
when a pious man passed near, and asked him what his monthly salary was.
He replied: 'Nothing.' He further inquired: 'Then why takest thou this
trouble?' He replied: 'I am reading for God's sake.' He replied: 'For God's
sake do not read.'
If thou readest the Quran thus
Thou wilt deprive the religion of splendour.